I’VE forgotten his name and his sport, but I couldn’t forget what a national athlete once told me when the conversation touched on the support other athletes in other countries get compared to the support they get from our government.
“It’s not just about the support, sir,” he said. “They only worry about their performance; we have to worry about our families and how soon we can send a portion of our allowance to them.”
Some of our national athletes, you see, are breadwinners in their family, and the allowance they get, they don’t get to keep but like dutiful sons and daughters, they send it back home.
I’m not a fan of this government, but one of the things they’ve done right is the support it has given to the athletes. It started way back in 2016, in the send-off to the Rio Olympics when Digong doubled the allowance of the Olympians when he learned they were getting about US$3,000. A few months later, we all saw a shift to athletes-first in the Philippine Sports Commission.
Before, when national sports associations got waylaid by political infighting, sometimes the athletes become collateral damage. Since 2016, the PSC, to the chagrin of some NSAs, would just bypass problematic NSA officials and provide support directly to the athletes. That explains the loyalty of some of the guys who’ve donned the national colors to Digong. They were in athletes’ heaven.
Of course, that was until 2020 hit and the barn-yard dung hit the fan.
The PSC was forced to take other responsibilities, and its facilities were even used for the Covid-19 response.
Understandable. It’s an all-hands on deck, approach right? And, in the middle of that, they discovered a few unscrupulous employees were conspiring to pad the list of athletes who were getting allowances so they could pocket millions.
Something or someone is bound to fall in one of the cracks. Unfortunately, one of those who fell is Irish Magno, our Olympic hopeful. She posted an emotional appeal of how she’s worrying for her family who relies on her after not getting an allowance for two months. As an Olympian, Irish is top tier and should be getting almost P33,000 a month, that’s more than double pre-2016 thanks to the PSC shift.
I’m confident the PSC will be on top of the situation soon. Chairman Butch Ramirez is that kind of guy. We all know boxing has always been our best chance at an Olympic gold and I hope, in the next few days, Irish Magno’s focus will be back on her preparation, assured that her family won’t be wanting.
I hope, too, there won’t be any other Irish Magnos in the national team.